Just in time….

We’re expecting our first heat wave of the summer this week so it seems like a good time to share one of those iced treat recipes I promised (warned about) a few weeks back. We hosted a bbq last weekend and one of the guests graciously brought us a huge bag of sweet limes from their tree. So I thought It’d be a good time to make some Lime Paletas or Ice Pops/Popsicles but with a Southeast Asian spin using lemongrass, mint and ginger. The easiest way to get all those flavors in there is by making an infused simple syrup.

I peeled and juiced all the limes and I was able to yield about a 1 1/2 cups of sweet lime juice. Simple syrup is pretty easy to make, its just equal parts sugar and water and heated until the sugar is dissolved then cooled down to room temperature or chilled depending on how you’re going to use it.  In this case I added a hefty chunk of smashed ginger and about 2 TBS of crushed lemongrass to give it that Southeast Asian vibe. I let the syrup cool to room temperature then strained it and let it cool further in the fridge. This will help the ice pops to freeze faster.

Once the lemongrass and ginger simple syrup was chilled, I got out the trusty ol’ blender and blended 1 1/2 cups of lime juice with 2 cups of the lemongrass ginger simple syrup, Then I tossed in 1/2 cup of fresh mint and blended until the mint was finely chopped. I poured the mixture into silicone molds then left to freeze for at least 5 hours.

I didn’t have good luck with the silicone molds and found that the ice pops get stuck even after running a little warm water on the outside of the mold. My suggestion is to use the zip top style ice pop bags, I got the ones I used on Amazon. If you don’t have molds or these fancy little bags, just freeze them mixture in ice cube trays. Hmm, if you pour a little rum over them you’d have an amazing little mojito…just sayin’

That’s it, I hope this helps you beat the summer heat…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 3 TBS crushed ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed lemongrass
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

No scratches or bee stings required

Fresh out of the oven and piping hot Blackberry Cobbler

One of the many things I miss about living in the PNW (that’s Pacific Northwest) is how easy (and free) it is to get your hands on ridiculous quantities of blackberries. They’re like weeds and grow everywhere and you don’t even have to go far off the beaten path to find them they grow along the side of the road. To make this week’s recipe, you just need to get a hold of blackberries, fresh, frozen, foraged or otherwise.

We hosted our first bbq of the summer this past weekend and I wanted a dessert that’s easy to serve to a crowd, can be made ahead and reminds me of summer. Blackberries, cobbler and corn remind me of summer and cobblers are great crowd friendly make ahead desserts. Since blackberries pair really well with corn, I decided to make a corn biscuit top.

As I mentioned, this was designed to feed a crowd so adjust your quantities accordingly. I used a combination of fresh and frozen blackberries. This recipe will serve 8.

Blackberry Cobbler with Corn Biscuit Top

  • 8 cups of blackberries (if using frozen, thaw the berries and retain the liquid)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Corn Biscuit top

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup freeze dried corn (ground)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 TBS chilled butter (cut into cubes)
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let sit for an hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350F.

Biscuit top-

Combine flour, cornmeal, freeze dried corn, salt, sugar, baking powder and chilled butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until butter forms little pea sized balls. Slowly add in buttermilk/yogurt (you may not need all of it) until dough just starts to come together. The dough will be fairly loose and sticky and that’s ok.

Spray a 2 quart (deep dish) casserole with cooking spray and fill with berry mixture. Using a Table spoon that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, drop dollops of biscuit batter across the top of the berries.

dollop corn biscuit batter

 

Place casserole dish on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until middle portion of the cobbler is bubbling. If top starts to brown too much over with aluminum foil. The cobbler can be served warm, room temperature or cold and pairs well with ice cream.

 

Easier than a Rice Krispy Treat

Simple and easy with big coconut flavor

Want a super easy sweet treat that goes together is a matter of minutes? As it turns out, macaroons are just that treat. Since Friday May 31st is National Macaroon Day (not to be confused with National Macaron Day which is in March) this recipe is just in time for that macaroon emergency. This is also a great little recipe if you find yourself like me with left over coconut and the dregs of a can of sweetened condensed milk that you don’t know what to do with.

Recipe

  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 TBS AP Flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condendensed milk
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or bakers chocolate for drizzling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, coconut, salt and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Spray your hands with cooking spray or lightly coat with oil and form coconut mixture into 1″ balls and lay out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 11-15 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Allow to cool and drizzle with dark chocolate if desired.  Yield 12-15 macaroon

Yep, its that easy. If you spray your mixing bowl with cooking spray, it will make clean up a little easier.  Oh and stay tuned. I’ll post my recipe for Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream and Coconut Cake Truffles in a few weeks.

Is it al pastor or adobada?…..Yes!

A while back, the gang over at Buzzfeed’s Tasty had a recipe for making al pastor at home (you can find the link here). If you’ve not had the opportunity to have al pastor/adobada it’s usually pork that’s slow roasted on a rotating vertical spit called a trompo similar to shwarma and gyro meat. Tasty’s method involved slow roasting marinated pork on skewers that were stuck into half a pineapple to approximate the traditional trompo. Though it was an intriguing idea, I found that when I attempted to use Tasty’s method, my pork wasn’t cooked all the way through because it was difficult to get the pork evenly distributed over the pineapple. The execution doesn’t really work out but their flavor was close to al pastor that I’ve had at some of my favorite taquerias.

My method for al pastor/adobada is much simpler and has that great flavor combination of chili lime and pineapple that makes al pastor so popular, though I’ll admit it doesn’t have the wow factor of a taquero slicing perfect strips of crispy pork off the trompo  Like this guy…

Al Pastor/Adobada

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder with fat cap
  • 12 oz can of pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped pineapple
  • 4 TBS ground achiote
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 TBS ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium sized white onion roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 TSP chipotle powder
  • 1 TBS salt
  • pepper
  • corn tortillas
  • pineapple salsa*

Place all the ingredients except the pork, tortillas and pinapple salsa into a blender and blend until you have a loose paste. Place the pork shoulder into a large zip top bag and pour marinade over the pork. Seal the bag and let marinade for at least 4 hours but overnight is ideal.

Remove pork from marinade (reserve the marinade) and roast at 325F for 90 minutes. Remove from oven. Set oven to broil. Placed reserved marinade into a small pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Cut the pork into 1/2 cubes and lay out on a greased cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes until pork starts to brown and crisp. Alternately, you can cook on the stove top using a griddle/cómal or a cast iron skillet.

 

Serve on warm corn tortillas with pineapple salsa

Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pineapple cut into 1/2 cubes
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 1 small shallot minced or 1 TBS of minced red onion

Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and enjoy. This can be eaten right away but its better if allowed to sit for a couple of hours.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, here’s my recipe for homemade corn tortillas.

We’ll be on hiatus the next couple of weeks. While we go on vacation.

 

 

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

I was having all sorts of technical issues this week, but finally go them resolved and was able to actually upload images again. So now that’s all taken care of for this weeks post I’m making cookies. Though this time around, I’m dressing up that timeless classic chocolate chip cookies. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fully Loaded….Fries that is…

Here in Southern California, loaded fries is a pretty big deal and just about every bar and hamburger stand has their variation of them whether it’s Pastrami Fries, Carne Asada Fries, or Greek Fries loaded with Gyro meat and feta. We make our own variation at home and the best part aside from warming up some BBQ brisket or pork and heating up some fries not much prep or cooking required. So this also comes together pretty easy on a week night with stuff from the grocery store.

Jack Danial’s Pulled Pork Fries

1 package of Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork or Brisket

1 jar of Tostitos Queso sauce

1 bag of French fries, tater tots or waffle fries

2 cups of shredded cheese

1 jalapeno finely chopped

3 scallions finely chopped

1 dill pickle finely chopped

bbq sauce/mayo sauce*

 

Cook the fries according to the package directions. While the fries are cooking, heat up the bbq pork/brisket according to the package directions and set aside. Once fries are cooked, add the shredded cheese and top with bbq meat and drizzle with queso sauce. Return to the oven and heat until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven, garnish with the chopped onions, jalapeño and pickles then drizzle with bbq sauce/mayo and serve.

*BBQ/Mayo Sauce

½ cup bbq sauce

½ cup mayo

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

1 TBS honey or agave nectar

1 tsp hot sauce optional

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until combined

 

It’s like eating a cloud….no really

Fluffy airy Pavlova with a mix of fresh berries and dusted with powdered sugar

The  weeks recipe is handy to keep in your back pocket for occasions when you find yourself with a lot of leftover egg whites. After making the custard for last week’s coconut cream pie, that’s exactly the situation I was in. Pavlova are sweet baked meringues but with crispy airy outer shell and a gooey marshmallowy center. They’re a perfect vehicle for seasonal fruits like fresh berries and other fruits.

Though you don’t need special equipment, you could mix them by hand. But unless you want your arm to fall off, I’d suggest at a minimum using a electric hand mixer but ideally a stand mixer.

Pavlova

4 eggs. whites

1 cup super fine sugar*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons corn starch

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Preheat 275F

Wipe the inside of the stand mixer. bowl with white vinegar to make sure there is not oil or grease in the bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip the 4 egg whites on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Mix the salt and sugar and gradually add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time into the egg whites,  whisking in between additions of sugar. Scrape down the sides of the Whisk until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Add in the cornstarch, vanilla, and lemon juice and whisk until incorporated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use the back of.a large spoon or a piping bag to form meringue mixture into 2 7″ rounds or 6-8 4″ diameter rounds. Bake on the middle rack at 275F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Turn off the over and let Pavlova’s cool in the oven while leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Serve with freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit

The Best Coconut Cream Pie Ever….no really….

My wife is a huge coconut fan, so I gave her a choice of whether she wanted a coconut cake or a coconut cream pie. She decided on coconut cream pie. So this week I’m going to share my recipe for super coconutty coconut cream pie. My goal with the pie is to infuse rich coconut flavor in each layer of the pie. With that said, I use my graham cracker coconut crust recipe as the base. You can  find the recipe here. Next comes the filling which is a rich coconut custard, that’s not only flavored with vanilla but also coconut extract and toasted shredded coconut. And finally, I make a vanilla and coconut flavored whipped cream and finish the whole thing off with toasted coconut chips. Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cream Pie Filling

1 prepared graham cracker crust

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 12 oz can evaporated milk

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup corn starch

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for garnish)

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp coconut extract

pinch of salt

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine eggs, salt, corn starch and sugar with ¼ cup of the milk and set aside. Heat the coconut milk and evaporated milk in a heavy bottomed pot until it comes to a slow bowl and turn the heat down to medium low. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of the heated milk mixture into the egg and starch mixture while continuously stirring with a wire wihisk. Now add the egg and starch mixture into the pot and stir until it thickens into a pudding like consistency. Add in 1 cup of the toasted shredded coconut. Fill the pie shell with the custard and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Finish with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut chips.

 

Enljoy

Not Your Typical Meat and Potatoes…

I think foodies like like to believe that they coined the term and the concept of fusion foods. But the reality is that fusion foods have been around for centuries if not millennia. And this weeks recipe is really a classic example of what happens when two cultures combine techniques and ingredients to create a whole new food experience. Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that exemplifies fusion cooking. Beef is seasoned with soy sauce and vinegar, paprika and cumin. Then its stir fried in a wok along with onions, roma tomatoes and french fries. It all comes together for some rib stickin’ comfort food.

Lomo Saltado

serves 4

1 lb flank steak cut into thin strips

1 lb Cooked French fries.

¼ cup soy sauce

2 TBS white vinegar

½ cup chicken stock

1 TBS Aji Amarillo Paste *

1 medium sized onion cut into. thin wedges

1 yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips

3 Roma Tomatoes seeded and cut into wedges

¼ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

2 scallions chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

2 TBS cooking oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl combine salt and pepper, cumin, paprika, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste and vinegar. Add in the sliced beef and set aside to marinade for about 15 minutes. In a large wok over medium high heat, heat up 1 TBS cooking oil until it shimmers add the chopped scallions and garlic, Drain the beef but retain the liquid and place the beef into the hot wok an stir until the meat has browned on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the other TBS of oil to the wok and add in the onions and yellow bell pepper, cook until the onions become translucent. Add the meat back into the wok along with the reserved marinade and stock. Turn down the wok to medium and let the sauce reduce by half. Add the French fries and tomatoes and let the fries and tomatoes warm back up, which will take about a minute. Its ready to serve.

Enjoy.

*Aji Amarillo Paste is available in Latin Markets, If you can’t find it, leave it out and use more yellow bell pepper.